10 Things I've Learned From Living On Yoga Retreat

Katherine Smith
10 Things I've Learned From Living On Yoga Retreat

I wake to the sound of my grinding teeth and an aching jaw. Wearily I ease myself out of bed as if I was ninety and stumble to the bathroom. I have never felt more tired or more ancient. As I wash my face, the reflection of a luminous full moon through the window catches my attention.

Seduced by the gentle touch of the breeze across my face, I turn and find myself lured to the garden, the wet dew awakening my toes and sending light tingling shivers up my spine. The smell of drying autumnal leaves tickle my nostrils as I watch them slowly begin to fall; one, by one, by one.

I stand there breathing slowly, beneath a blanket sky of stars, reminded of how small and fragile we all are. I relish the peacefulness of it all. For the first time in a long time, I feel alive.

A Different Life

It was beneath that beautiful expansive sky that I began to realize that perhaps I wanted something different to the stressful city life I was living. I just couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was missing. That somehow I’d got it wrong.

So I quit all of it—the regular job, the nice house, the stability and support of having friends and family around me.

I took off in search of a new way of life. I pursued my passion for travel and yoga, and spent the past two years living in remote places, being a yoga retreat teacher, cooking, and caring for people in the wilderness. This is what I’ve learned.

1. There is a rhythm to life.

Nature has its own rhythm and everything happens with perfect timing, in a way that cannot be forced or rushed. Trust it.

2. We are stronger than we think.

We all have our stories; after all, it’s part of our human experience. Still, it’s worth remembering that we have an incredible capacity to grow from, heal, and overcome these things which challenge us.

3. Laughter is essential.

Shit happens. Sometimes you just need to laugh about it.

4. Working with the body affects the mind.

The truth is, we live in an over-analytical society. Sometimes we just need to stop thinking and start moving as a way of feeling and healing.

5. Simple is better.

We can find pleasure in living more simply, doing less, and surviving with fewer things.

6. Connections make us come alive.

People really come alive in the company of others. So turn off those smartphones and seek out the comfort of company and community.

7. We never know what will happen.

Life is unpredictable. Just going with it makes thing a lot easier. Dial down the resistance.

8. Giving truly is receiving.

It’s not all about you. Doing things for others makes us feel good.

9. Practice and all is coming.

Put in the effort in your practice and don’t worry about where it will take you. We don’t always have to be so obsessed by goals. Perhaps we become capable of even more than we have ever dreamed of if we just let go.

10. Whatever you do, own it.

You have one life. Be bold, step up, get out there, and be you—without apology, without compromise. Never be afraid of doing things differently.

These are lessons I’ve picked up travelling the world and sharing with others the healing arts that have saved me and turned my life around years ago. This life—of yoga, nature, community, and love—has transformed me and completed me and made me realize who I really am.

While this bittersweet journey never really ends, these truths help me along the path to creating my own destiny. I hope they, too, give you confidence in your own journey.